This is an important concept if one lives in any area plagued by natural disasters. They occur statistically, and they will again; it's as simple as that unfortunately! Directly before, during or after an earthquake is not the time to worry about things like leaking natural gas pipes. Long before the first disaster hits your pipes, you should be ready. This is because of the very real danger that lies in not doing so.
The Danger Is Real...
Not many people stop to think about it, but there are many home utility concerns when it comes to earthquakes. While many people immediately think of the electrical wiring within their homes in the aftermath of a disaster, what about those metal pipes that are carrying natural gas? You know... that scentless stuff that causes explosions and fires? This might be a good time to remind the reader that around a quarter of all the post-earthquake fires that occur are natural gas based! This is why it's so important for residents to have certain design elements, such as earthquake shutoff valves, installed into their natural gas plumbing systems. Let's look at what earthquake shutoffs are now that we've discussed the fire statistics.
How Do These Valves Work?
The idea behind them is simple enough. These types of valves refer to strategically placed valves used to shutoff gas lines within the home. Shutting them off after a natural disaster is a very important use for such valves. The valve is typically installed directly onto the home's gas meter. It is often equipped with a motion sensor that allows it to detect gas leaks that are the result of a disaster such as an earthquake. The natural gas flow is now stopped directly at the meter; right where it begins.
The whole idea with these valves is that the gas is turned off automatically in the event of a disaster. The homeowner has one less thing to worry about. Out of all the things that a homeowner would like to allow memory to handle, something that could result in fires and/or explosions should probably not be one of them for obvious reasons. The valve makes such a thing where it is practically no longer a concern. The homeowner can concentrate on securing his family and assessing the damage instead of securing gas lines.
The Danger Doesn't Stop at Fires and Explosions!
Believe it or not, the danger for these gas pipes in the event of an earthquake doesn't end with mere fire and explosions. You, or members of your family, could easily asphyxiate because not enough oxygen is present within the air that you are breathing! Consider this, multiple types of blood poisons could also occur because of the molecular nature of natural gas. Granted, a lot must be breathed in, but this stuff is naturally scentless, however. What little bit of odor we detect as homeowners was typically added artificially by the gas company supplying the utility. While pungent, many homeowners could easily overlook said odor. This is especially true when considering the conditions present directly after a natural disaster such as an earthquake.
Many Service Companies Are Well Versed with These Valves
The good news is that many service companies out there (aka "plumbers") are used to these installations when they operate within an earthquake zone. Most companies do quite a few of them (because of their very serious purpose) so having one done might not be expensive as you initially anticipate. The valve is being installed on top of the existing meter, so no pipe must be dug up or revealed to work. Your paramount cost with such a job would probably lie in the materials (aka the valve with the sensor built in.)
Change Your Entire Mindset Now!
As the title suggests, work on changing your entire mindset now. Don't think of these sorts of tasks as "something I should do if an earthquake happens..." Begin thinking of these chores as a must do list to prepare for when that earthquake comes trembling through! Also, consider this; once a valve is installed you have one in place for all earthquakes that might occur. Even if you must replace lines within your home's walls, chances are good you'll still have that fancy shutoff device installed onto your meter outside. If you happen to be replacing pipes within your walls, that fancy outside valve could have saved the life of you and your family!
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